1. Big one in Wingate
Bald Eagle Area (4-0, 2-0 Big 7) and Central Mountain (3-0, 1-0), the district’s lone undefeated Class AAA teams, should produce a packed gym tonight in Wingate.
Local tests are becoming rare for Central Mountain. The Wildcats haven’t lost to an area team since falling to BEA in 2006-07.
NCAA champion and Penn State junior Quentin Wright was a high school junior the last time BEA defeated Central Mountain. Second-year Penn State wrestlers Andrew and Dylan Alton were Central Mountain freshmen in 2006-07.
2. Clash of the studs?
This year’s Wildcats include another sensation in 160-pounder Brian Brill. The senior hasn’t lost since the 2010 PIAA tournament. Brill, a Lehigh recruit, is 12-0 with 10 falls this season.
Junior Jake Taylor headlines BEA’s lineup. Taylor is 11-0 at 170 pounds.
Will Central Mountain bump Brill to 170?
It depends on the draw. If the meet begins in the middle, such a move would be too risky. If the meet ends at 170 or 182 and somebody has already secured the team victory, Central Mountain coach Doug Buckwalter might be tempted to move Brill.
3. Breaking the rest of the meet down
Secrets between BEA and Central Mountain are scarce. The schools, after all, share a border and competed together in the season-opening Top Hat Tournament.
Central Mountain won in Williamsport. BEA finished second. The teams are also participating in this weekend’s Escape the Rock Tournament at Council Rock South and next weekend’s Red Raider Rumble at Bellefonte.
Taylor and Nathaniel Powers met in the 170-pound finals at Top Hat, with Taylor winning 7-2. Central Mountain’s Blaze Buckwalter edged James Grieb 4-3 to finish third at 182 last month.
Wins at 170 and 182 would be huge for BEA. The Eagles are also strong at 195 and 220. They can extend their upperweight advantage to 285 if 220-pounders Nate Sharkey and Ben Verbitsky are available.
The Wildcats have been forfeiting at 106 recently. The Eagles feature one of the district’s best 106-pounders in junior Travis Giedroc. Both teams are young from 113 to 152, although a matchup between seniors Matt Dillon and Joey Miller is possible at 138. Central Mountain’s Miller is a state qualifier while the energetic Dillon had a huge pin in BEA’s 43-30 victory over Bellefonte.
4. And the night after
BEA receives no respite. The Eagles visit emerging Philipsburg-Osceola on Wednesday.
The Mounties are a deceiving 1-2, losing to Bellefonte 45-35 and Central Mountain 46-21 last month and defeating Huntingdon 41-24 last Friday. P-O won its own Mountaineer Tournament and placed second at the Big Dog Tournament.
Giedroc (10-3), a 2011 district champion, is expected to face undefeated P-O sophomore Chris Thompson (14-0) at 106. Other key bouts: 138 (Dillon vs. Andrew Greenawalt) and 195 (Varner vs. Brad Anstine).
5. Ramming forward
Penns Valley earned five more victories last week. The Rams defeated Hollidaysburg and Bellwood-Antis before going 3-2 at last Saturday’s Anthracite Duals.
The Rams (7-3) enter this week sixth in the race for eight District 6 Class AA team tournament spots. Penns Valley travels to the Juniata Duals on Saturday. Blairsville, Mount Union, West Branch and Richland currently hold the top four spots.
BEA and Bellefonte are third and fifth, respectively, in the race for six Class AAA spots. Central Mountain is second. Mifflin County currently holds the top spot but the BEA-Central Mountain winner should vault the Huskies.
6. Finally at home
State College wrestles its first meet tonight against Altoona. The Little Lions spent the season’s first month on the road. Stops included Jersey Shore, DuBois, Chambersburg and Parkland. The schedule is almost as nomadic as the school’s ambitious football slate.
The Little Lions (2-15) went 0-5 at last weekend’s Parkland Duals, losing to Delaware Valley 62-12, Abington Heights 52-18, Exeter Township 57-18, Pleasant Valley 70-3 and Garnet Valley 65-12.
7. Look out for McDowell
McDowell has established itself as the current Northwest Regional favorite. The Trojans, who won last month’s 32-team King of the Mountain Tournament, captured last weekend’s Tool City Tournament title by 24 points over District 3 Boiling Springs. Steve Spearman (138) and Khlique Harris (182) won titles for McDowell.